Gaming Today Impressions of Lost: Via Domus
Lost: Via Domus
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Violence)
Release Date: February 26, 2008
I am a complete sucker when it comes to video games based on my favorite TV shows. It’s for that reason that I’ve suffered through both The Sopranos: Road to Respect and 24: The Game. So when I heard that there was going to be a game coming out based on Lost, I already knew I would be playing it. It didn’t matter how the developers approached the title or even if it were declared unanimously to be the worst video game adaptation ever, I’d still be drawn to it like a mosquito to a bug zapper. Thankfully, this is probably the best game based on a TV show that I have ever played. Of course, that’s not saying much. Full review after the break.
I’m going to get this important note out of the way first: if you want to play Lost: Via Domus, RENT it, do NOT buy it. I say this because the game’s main flaw is that it is woefully short. I beat the game in six hours, and that was with accomplishing most of the side tasks. It really feels like one episode in a much larger game, but future Lost games have not been announced at all. At any rate, it is certainly not worth the full $60 retail price.
The game casts you in the role of Elliot, another survivor of the ill-fated Oceanic flight 815, who awakens on the island with amnesia (incredibly original, I know). As the game progresses, Elliot’s main task is to put the pieces of his memory together to figure out who he is and, more importantly, why another survivor is out to kill him. To do this, he’ll interact with a number of familiar cast members and explore some areas of the island for clues. Occasionally, you’ll enter a flashback section which is pretty routine unless you’re out to recover several “hidden memories” which unlock concept art (and achievement points on the Xbox 360 version).
The developers certainly made good use of the “Lost” license and really captured the feel of the show — a feat in itself, given the failure of past TV show games to do the same. You get a sense of panic when a familiar beeping starts echoing from the hatch, Locke’s ramblings still make very little sense, and the “monster” is scary as hell. The whole title is surprisingly polished, if highly limited. The environments are incredibly detailed, but you’ll mostly visit the same areas over and over again. This may be similar to the show, but I was really hoping for something new to discover. Before the game’s release, the developer’s painted a picture of almost an open world for the player to explore.
Oddly, the game feels hindered by its license. I’m a huge fan of the show, but it felt like the developers were trying almost too hard to fit this game into the main storyline somehow. If I hadn’t been keeping up with the show from the beginning, I would have no idea what was going on at all. You talk with cast members who briefly mention the raft and suddenly opening a hatch, but they just seem to assume that Elliot already knows what’s going on. But if the main audience is hardcore Lost fans (such as myself) then, there’s still not much to entice people into this game, as it hardly sheds any light on the island’s mysteries. Sure, you get to explore some areas more deeply and the ending may bring up new questions (or not, depending on how you look at it). At best, the game acts a companion piece to the TV show. Mostly though, you’re trying to dig into the personal past of a character that has no impact on the overall story — like that one murder mystery episode with two castaways who magically appeared out of nowhere. As a mystery-solving game by itself though, it’s executed very well. I might actually play a game structured in a similar way if it had an original (and longer) story behind it.
Ultimately, Lost: Via Domus is a suprisingly well-executed TV show game that will only appeal to die-hard fans of the show and possibly achievement whores (I got 860 points added to my Gamerscore without even trying). Casual viewers/gamers would probably be better off spending their time elsewhere. Seriously, you could whittle away more hours just trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the series up to this point.
Also be sure to check out 1Up’s official review of Lost: Via Domus here.